by Rachael Reynolds
Spring has sprung and many of us find our thoughts turning to outdoor activities and gardening. Gardening is a great way to get yourself outdoors and interacting with nature. It’s also an amazing way to show children how things grow and where some of our food comes from. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or just starting out here are some tips and ideas you may find useful and interesting.
- Regrow Your Produce
- Re-growing produce can be a great way to get more bang for your buck in your food budget. We can extend the use of several types of produce purchase in stores or at the farmer’s market, simply by placing the root end in water and allowing them to continue growing. Some of these plants include;
- Scallions or green onions
- Romaine lettuce
- Carrot tops (can be used like parsley)
- Napa Cabbage
- Ginger Root
- Do you have very little space, time or energy for gardening? Try planting herbs.
BASIL: Works well in any tomato based dish, both raw and cooked. Also can be made into pesto for salads, pasta, sandwiches and pizza recipes.
CHIVES: Add to any dish for a mild onion flavor, for best flavor only slightly cook or add raw. Easily cut with kitchen scissors.
CILANTRO: Use fresh or lightly cooked in Indian, Thai, and Latin inspired dishes, fresh tomato salsa, or fruit salsas.
DILL: Add to creamy dressings for salads, also pairs well with garlic and lemon to mix into steamed vegetables or baked fish dishes.
MARJORIM: Similar to oregano, this is commonly used in fish sauces, fish chowders, salads, and tomato based sauces.
MINT: Add to both sweet and savory dishes for a refreshing burst of flavor, including fruit based dishes and even to flavor your water.
OREGANO: Works well in Italian style dishes. It can be used fresh or easily dried and stored for later use. Stems are woody and fibrous.
PARSLEY: Use either raw or cooked as an all-purpose herb in soups, salads, stews and more. Can also be used as a garnish.
ROSEMARY: Strip leaves from stem for best results. Best used on chicken, turkey and pork, mixed into vegetable dishes or stuffing.
SAGE: Stems can be woody and bitter. Add leaves to any poultry dish or mix into savory stuffing
TARRAGON: Add to any chicken or fish recipe directly or combined into a sauce.
THYME: Works well to flavor any poultry, meat or fish dish. Also comes in a Lemon Thyme variety which can add a fragrant fruity note to dishes.
- Starting Seeds
- Starting seeds at home can be a great way to save some money because you can buy a pack of seeds for a few dollars and grow many seedlings vs. buying seedlings for a few dollars each. The growing containers can get pricy but do not need to be fancy or expensive. I tend to store and reuse my growing containers and purchase new peat moss plugs each year. I especially like ones with covers as they help to control the humidity for the seeds and reduce the amount I need to water them. In the image below I have started three of my favorites, pickling cucumbers, pole beans and nasturtium. These plants will eventually be transferred to containers and will be trellised on my deck railing.
- Container Gardening
- Container gardens are a great option for gardening in small spaces or in places where you are uncertain of the quality of your soil due to possible contamination from pets, road runoff, chemical treatment or lead paint leaching into the soil. Some things to consider when planting a container garden are:
- The spacing of plants that you will put in the container is important because if a container is overcrowded it can lead to poor growth, greater risk for developing disease in the plants and plants becoming root bound in the pot. Be sure to read your seed information to determine the best spacing.
- Your seed packet will also help when deciding placement of your containers depending on the amount of light your plants need as well as the type and depth of soil you should use in your containers.
- Companion planting would be something else to consider because variety is nice and some plants do best when planted with other varieties of plants. For example, I often plant basil with my tomatoes. Basil is a natural deterrent for pests that could damage tomato plants.
- Drainage of containers is critical to plant health. When planting in pots or containers be sure to have holes in the bottom of the pots then a layer of fabric or mesh to keep soil from clogging the holes as well as a layer of stone. These will ensure that your plants aren’t sitting in a pool of trapped water which would cause them to rot.
For more tips on growing herbs/container gardens; visit our YouTube video through the link below.
- Now that you’ve grown all of these veggies, what could you do with them?
- How about Rainbow Salad? Check out our YouTube link to find out more https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=atMJFDts250
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